Nearly 513,000 Future Room Nights
MINNEAPOLIS, March 17, 2005 - For every dollar the City of Minneapolis invested in the GMCVA in 2004, it will receive $80 in future convention and tourism business. In total, the GMCVA's sales efforts produced nearly 513,000 future room nights for area hotels. This represents more than $522 million in future economic impact for businesses throughout the Minneapolis area.
While the Convention Sales department finished short of its target, the entire organization booked 86 percent of its overall room night goal and made a 21 percent improvement over 2003. Delayed meeting planner decisions, a still-recovering market and a lack of a compressed downtown hotel inventory played a part in missing the convention room night goal.
"In fact, three major conventions that listed Minneapolis as a finalist but ultimately selected another city, represented a total of 125,000 lost room nights," said Greg Ortale, GMCVA president and CEO.
In 2004, success in booking business was enhanced by getting potential clients to experience Minneapolis.
"Once we get them here, they're sold," said Ortale. "The Minneapolis product is superb. Meeting planners are blown away by the city - the quality of Minneapolis' hotels and the state-of-the-art convention center, along with a safe and vibrant downtown all convince them to book their next convention here."
At no time was that more obvious than during GMCVA's key event: the annual convention of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in August. The "Super Bowl of conventions" drew 5,500 attendees, the majority of whom are decision-makers who determine where conventions are booked.
Nearly two-thirds of post-ASAE survey respondents said their experience at ASAE significantly changed their impression of Minneapolis for the better. Most respondents said that Minneapolis had changed dramatically since their last visit and that it exceeded their expectations. Four out of five said they would come back to the city. ASAE estimated that hosting the convention will generate $1.4 billion in future meeting business for Minneapolis.
Sixty-six percent of past lost convention business (1999-2004) cited a hotel inventory or availability issue as a reason for not selecting Minneapolis. This was addressed in a hotel feasibility study conducted by Chicago-based C.H. Johnson in 2004. Study results identified a 2,800-room deficit and overwhelmingly demonstrated the need for a new 1,200-room hotel in close proximity to the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Small Group Business Key to Success
Despite challenges, the Convention Sales department booked 276 future conventions, and, for the first time, business in its meetings and conferences division (groups requiring 750 hotel room nights or less) represented the majority of bookings. This gave area hotels much-needed short-term business and contributed to an increase in hotel occupancy rate that outpaced the national average.
The GMCVA's Tourism & Group Sales department experienced a great amount of success in 2004. Its wedding services program took off, generating nearly 20 percent of its hotel room nights booked. Also
contributing to the record room night numbers was an increase in European (particularly United Kingdom) travel packages and African American reunion bookings.
Targeted and Niche Marketing
In 2004, the GMCVA targeted its marketing efforts to specific demographic groups and special interest areas. Its neighborhood marketing initiatives focused on the Mississippi Riverfront District, with a new website for the area. In addition, to support neighborhood restaurants and bars during a transition to becoming smoke-free establishments, the GMCVA was part of a committee that created a "Clean Air Minneapolis" marketing campaign. It launches this week.
New targeted websites launched and re-built in 2004
-- minneapolis-kids.com (for family travel to Minneapolis)
-- minneapolis-riverfront.com (highlighting the riverfront as a destination)
-- minneapolis.org/spanish (geared toward Spanish-speaking travelers)
-- minneapolis.org/french (focused on international travelers from France)
-- glbtminneapolis.org (aimed at gay and lesbian travelers)
To generate leisure tourism hotel bookings, the GMCVA began creating travel packages. In 2004, it promoted and sold theater travel packages online in Midwest markets. Enhanced search engine marketing also generated increased traffic to GMCVA-hosted websites. Through better placement on search engines and targeted online advertising efforts, the GMCVA increased unique website visitors by 33 percent over 2003.
GMCVA 2004 results at-a-glance
Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association
250 Marquette Avenue South, Suite 1300
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Telephone: 612-767-8000 or 888-676-6757
|Also See:||Convention Hotel Feasibility Study Overwhelmingly Demonstrates Need for a New 1,200-room Hotel near the Minneapolis Convention Center; Downtown Minneapolis' Inadequate Hotel Inventory Negatively Affects Future Convention Business / December 2004|